Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 7, 2012

Virginia continues push toward bowl eligibility

By HANK KURZ Jr., AP Sports Writer
Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia finally put it all together in a 33-6 victory at North Carolina State, ending a six-game losing streak and keeping alive hope that a strong finish could land the Cavaliers in a bowl game.

The Cavaliers (3-6, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) are not looking that far ahead. Their coaches have given them a goal to win November, and they hope to continue on Saturday when Miami comes to town.

Because of the long skid, they have no margin for error.

“We basically just feel it’s like a playoff-type system and we just want to win every game that we can so we can get to that bowl,” freshman defensive end Michael Moore said Monday.

The Hurricanes (5-4, 4-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) hope to make that difficult.

Virginia has won two straight in the series, and four of the last six.

The Hurricanes would become bowl eligible with a victory and lead the ACC’s Coastal Division, even though the school has not decided whether it will self-impose a postseason ban for the second year in row, a move that would be related to the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Hurricanes’ compliance practices.

Miami, which beat Virginia Tech on Thursday night, will have two extra days to get ready, but will find a Cavaliers team that has a renewed zest for football after finally ending the losing streak.

Dating back to last season, when Virginia lost its last two games, it was only its second victory in the last 10 games against Bowl Subdivision teams, and the other one — a 17-16 victory against Penn State the second week of this season — came only because the Nittany Lions missed four makeable field goals.

“After a win, everything is that much better,” quarterback Phillip Sims said. “It’s sweeter. The whole team is energized. Everybody’s back to normal. It’s hard to come in week after week, especially after tough losses, when you’re losing by three and four points. Those are the ones that really wear and tear on your team, so to come in after a win, a big-time win, ACC play. It’s good to see smiles on guys faces when they come in instead of everybody frowning like, ‘Aw Man. How are we going to turn it around?”’

Virginia practices on Sundays, and even that was OK, Sims said.

“Usually Sundays are rough days, especially after a game, whether you win or lose. Everybody’s a little banged up, everybody’s a little tired after the game” he said. “But after a big win like that, after you haven’t been having things going your way, you could see a little pep in everybody’s step.”

There are also, on an increasing basis, younger players helping to build that excitement.

Moore, the son of Virginia tight ends coach Shawn Moore, had his first career sack against the Wolfpack. Fellow freshman defensive end Eli Harold made his first career start, had four tackles and an interception. Freshman cornerback Maurice Canady and sophomore linebacker Daquan Romero also made their first starts, and Canady had seven tackles and an interception, and Romero had six stops.

Not a bad way to bounce back from an open week, Romero said.

“That bye week really gave us a time to come together as a team and think about a lot of things that were going on and where we wanted it to go,” he said. “We’re taking it one game at a time really.

“We know what we have to do and where we have to go to get to these bowl games.”